mWomen Initiative: Bringing The Power of Mobile To Women

Examining the mobile phone ‘gender gap’ in its report, the GSMA has launched a new mWomen Programme that aims to bring the socio-economic benefits of mobile to women in developing markets worldwide. This initiative, supported by the Cherie Blair Foundation for Women, aims to halve the gender gap from 300 million and bring the power of mobile to more than 150 million women in developing markets, within three years. According to the report ‘Women and Mobile: A Global Opportunity’, which was jointly created by the GSMA and the Cherie Blair Foundation for Women, 300 million women in developing countries are missing out on what mobile can enable. By extending the benefits of mobile phone ownership to more women, a host of social and economic goals can be achieved. There is a strong incentive for the private sector to lend their support as closing the mobile phone gender gap represents a $13 billion incremental, annual revenue opportunity for mobile operators worldwide. mwomen_pr The GSMA mWomen Programme will address the key barriers to women’s access to mobile phones, including total cost of ownership, technical literacy, and cultural barriers to adoption. The vision of the programme is that by increasing access to mobile connectivity and services, women living on less than $2 per day will achieve a greater sense of security, independence, economic opportunity and connection with the world outside their homes. This in turn will lead to greater empowerment and control over their lives and those of their families. The key components of the GSMA mWomen programme include: offering technical assistance, with activities focused on catalysing the mobile industry to work collectively to close the gender gap and track progress, including development of business cases for mobile phone operators; and providing value-added services – life-changing services in the areas of health, education, finance and entrepreneurship, to be delivered by mobile phone operators in partnership with the international development community. The GSMA has already secured commitment to this programme from 20 leading global mobile companies operating in over 115 developing countries. The mobile companies Bharti Airtel, IDEA Cellular, Uninor, Vodafone etc. Nokia has also committed to the programme by piloting women’s information initiatives under its Ovi Life Tools service, focusing specifically on healthcare and education. To support the programe, the GSMA has also launched the ‘mWomen Base of the Pyramid Apps Challenge’. Sponsored by Vodafone, this global competition is open to all and offers the opportunity to create the ultimate app for women in developing countries. This is a two-tier competition; Tier 1 will be an app for a low-end device or feature phone and Tier 2 will be an app for smartphones. The winners will be announced at the 2011 GSMA Mobile World Congress, hosted in Barcelona, at the official awards ceremony on Tuesday 15th February 2011.

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